With remnants of tomatoes lining the interior of our ears, shoes and front packs we start up Van Damme and begin to cruise toward Barcelona.
Our journey takes us along the east coast of Spain around some cliff edged highway reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road back home. Still with us are Kim, Shantelle and now Sarah has opted to rejoin us and leave Ant and Martina who are headed to Greece. Not long after we hear the great news that Ant proposed to Martina on a yacht somewhere in the Greek Islands, and she excepted.
But for us there is to be no marriage, we are a group of young free nomads. Despite having three hot young ladies traveling with us, Lee’s heart is floating somewhere in Scotland and Jag and my small advances on the girls are unsuccessful.
Van Damme splutters and jumps (what my brothers used to call Kangaroo juice in the petrol), Lee explains that it’s probably due to water in some dodgy fuel we bought. There’s always a lull in your heart beat when you notice something wrong with the van. It could mean being stranded for hours whilst we fix a problem, or if your Jag being stranded whilst Lee and Mick argue over how a battery should work.
Not soon enough we get to Barcelona. One of the girls has a Lonely Planet guide and we follow directions to a huge campsite which just happens to be closed. So we make a decision to park outside and camp on the side of the motorway. It would be this time that would set a bench mark for our free camping for the rest of the time.
We’re not ones to stick to tradition, and we’re not afraid to cook and even sometimes clean. But the girls see us as a burden and we are banished from the preparation of salad for the motorway camp feast. A delicious and strangely nutritious salad of egg, corn, lettuce, carrot and dried Spanish meat…. Mmmm dried meat!
The next day we hit Barcelona by bus. Soon we find ourselves immersed in the main market which sells everything from Tarantulas to Australian Rosella’s. Cages and tanks of all sizes line the street, housing everything you could or would ever want to own as a pet. Turtles, lizards, scorpions, rats, ferrets, frogs, peer out at you with a mixture of cuteness and subdued hostility. For a moment I consider buying my nephew Kyle an Iguana for Christmas, but I’m sure customs wouldn’t care if Kyle got his new lizard from Santa or not.
So we moved on, visiting the Museum of Erotica, which houses sexual artifacts, photographs, sculptures and even a very old pornographic silent movie.
When it came time to leave, we had trouble getting Sarah out of the place and had to convince her through bribery of Alcohol. (We’re only kidding Sarah, your alright kid!!)
That night Sarah and I decided to kick on with a pub crawl throughout Barcelona. Starting at the “Travelers bar” (a funky little backpackers pub, which serves ultra cheap food when purchased with beer) after that it’s a big blur intertwined among people without names. So many faces, drinking so much booze, in so many places. The photos say it all. First of all there’s the guy who looks like Ricky Martin that tried to pick up Sarah, then there’s a very chic woman who we only know by San Francisco, another girl from Adelaide whose name of course became the very same. As the night wore on everyone was called after the town they were from. A very big night that saw Sarah and I return in a cab to the campsite at around 6:00am.
In the morning Sarah and I awoke to very, very sore heads. Earlier the others including Kim and Shantelle were horrified to find my naked body passed out in bed. It seems I thought it would be a good idea to take off all my clothes before I went to sleep. Needless to say no one looked at me in the same way after that.
Once all the air traffic in my head had been taken out of a hold pattern, we checked out some cultural goodness. Firstly the Picasso museum was an interesting stop, but not great at the beginning of a hangover. With a somewhat distorted view of reality, this owl loving, freak of nature’s style has journeyed through so many transformations to come to rest on what we know today as the works of Pueblo Picasso.
If “Mr two-eyes-on-the-same-side-of-a-head” isn’t too much to grasp over two hours, the next stop was a chap by the name of Guadi. Antoni (as he was known to his friends) was a little obsessed with bizarre gothic like structures of which is greatest project was the La Sagrada Familia. Talk about biting off more than you chew, this guy designed a cathedral that was so grand that he would never have time to finish it. In a cruel twist of fate this highly obsessed artist slash architect, who lived, dreamed and ate his art stepped onto the road and was ran over by a tram, killing him. And if it wasn’t bad enough some people didn’t like the same things as he did and decided to destroy his workshop and the astonishing blueprints with it.
Fortunately some people did agree with what he wanted to do and began work to complete the massive cathedral. Unfortunately without blueprints the second side of the structure would never look like he originally intended and would not be finished until 2020. Fortunately visitors are able to pay and visit one of the many towering spires and take in the breathtaking views of Barcelona. Unfortunately one of these visitors today is badly hung-over and experiencing a severe case of vertigo. When we reach the summit, it’s only five minutes before the height becomes too much and I have to descend the hundreds of steps to rest at the park below. .
The moral of the story is; leave pub crawls until after sight seeing, or preferably during!